x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

How small is too small?

For a long time, people wanted smaller mobile phones. Now the trend seems to have reversed.

Gadgets are shrinking in size as technology evolves: "laptop" computers have become thinner and smaller, the calculator has almost vanished as it has been integrated into other devices, even tablet computers are contracting.

Innovation and competition are making things smaller. So why is it that mobile phones are suddenly headed in the other direction?

From the big and bulky Motorola DynaTAC that Michael Douglas wielded in the 1987 movie Wall Street, to the iPhone 3G and the Galaxy S3, technology has shaped many generations of mobile phones. For a long time, handsets got smaller. Even five years ago you were not cool unless you had the smallest, most feature-packed phone.

But the new Samsungs, including the Galaxy S4 coming to market next month, are larger than the iPhone, and larger than most other smartphones. What's going on here?

The answer lies in choice and competition. Will phones keep growing as tablets keep shrinking? Where will they meet? What will be the next big (or little) thing? Nobody can say for sure, but with phones now too big for pocket or purse, something will surely have to change.